“How good it is to give thanks to you, O Lord,
to sing in your honor, O Most High God,
to proclaim your constant love every morning
and your faithfulness every night,
with the music of stringed instruments.” – Psalm 92
STRINGS: Yesterday evening, while Rebekah worked late on various church details, I took some time to re-string and clean my Ovation Balladeer acoustic guitar, an original from the late 1970’s. The guitar is an old friend, and we have made a lot of music together over the years.
I hate to admit it, but this is the first time I’ve re-strung this guitar since our move to North Carolina. I’ve been playing, very occasionally, but over the past few months I’ve played less and less. Consequently my guitar had become harder to tune, and increasingly difficult to keep in tune; not only that, but the tone was losing its clarity and crispness.
But maintenance takes time, and it takes intention, and it takes care; so – without hardly noticing – my Balladeer began to slip into obscurity.
The other part of this equation is the playing. Good instruments like to be played. Also, playing a guitar is not like riding a bicycle. You do forget. You forget some of the chords, and the finger dexterity fades just a little, and the callouses disappear from your fingers, and technique begins to lose its edge.
HARMONY: Then, while putting on the new strings – careful to balance the stress on the neck – I noticed how empty the fretboard is with just a couple of strings. Both the high E and the low E certainly play their part, but the middle is where all the work gets done. It takes the A, the D, the G, and even the difficult-to-calibrate B to provide the rich nuances of tone and color.
Music of substance is created from chords, harmonies, rhythm, and especially the occasional blue note or dissonant tone. If I simply favored one note, and excised anything that deviated even a little, all I’d have remaining would be a monotonous drone.
I’m not sure that I need to draw any parallels here to life in community, and to the devastating effect of neglect, and rust, and lost vibrancy on our spiritual selves. I’m confident I can trust all of you to fill in the details.
Love, faith, vibrant fellowship, and rich music to you all – DEREK